Nowy Port is a residential and harbour district, located in the northern part of the city. Separated from the rest of the city with industrial sites and green areas. Prosperous in the past, today it resonates with emptiness. Once a significant port area, the neighbourhood has faced decline for the last two decades. Similarly to other neighbourhoods in the network, also this district is bordering with waterfront, but not able to access it due to the industry. The neighbourhood is manifesting the prosperous past in the architecture, but now is very let down. The connection to the city centre is rather slow, which makes the area and its inhabitants seem as outsiders. Entering the area, one is greeted with a wall mural saying “Nowy Bronx” as the inhabitants are embracing the “rough” reputation of the area. There is even a short movie made called “Nowy Bronx”, following the life of teenagers living in the area. Several precious buildings are let down and stand empty and there is a sense, that “time has stopped here”.
10684 inhabitants with very low employment rate. Social problems have been big here for a long time. It is isolated district and has a very bad reputation also because here the first anti – communist strike took place. Recent immigration also end up here, so there are many Ukranians renting flats here, because the prices are cheap. (Iwona Wozniewska, Monika Popow, NGO 180 degrees) There are problems of domestic violence, social negligence and drug abuse. Only 10% people voted in the last local council elections.
The biggest challenge is the social environment of the area. The concentration of public housing creates social segregation. The culture of littering and vandalism as well as public drinking is creating a vicious cycle. The authorities are not investing in the properties and public space since they get vandalized and littered, thus creating a feeling of “abandonment” in the eyes of the local inhabitants. In some cases, the streets and courtyards are without electricity, but simultaneously the bus stop can get vandalized in search for precious metals. Children are raised in an environment where it is acceptable to throw trash on the street. There is a sense of distrust to the authorities.
Visions and aims:
The local NGO and cultural scene is growing and energetic. The aim is to activate the social imagination and turn it into a long-term engagement process. The outside image is already changing a lot, there are more visitors coming to the area. The local inhabitants would like to emphasize, that it is a good place to live and take a breath from the city life, with less noise and pollution. This area is also in a process of regeneration and it is crucial, that the local inhabitants are involved in the process, otherwise they won’t feel the sense of ownership and won’t see it as something, that needs to be looked after commonly.
Cultural planning approach:
The contemporary art centre Laznia has one of its centres in Nowy Port, the other being in the other site in Gdansk. A Danish artist Grete Aagaard, residing in the Laznia centre, has started a newspaper “New Port lives”, which has become, in a way, a catalyst for social change and discussion. There is a local art institution network, which supports each other and also the City Culture Institute is present with different kind of events and local activists participating and leading the guided tours. It is important to test mutual respect in the future public involvement processes as people are losing faith in their voices being heard.